Oregon State falls short against No. 2 Notre Dame

Oregon State coach Scott Rueck believes his team gained some

confidence and played their best game of the year despite falling

short against No. 2 Notre Dame.

”This team competed for 40 minutes, just laser focus. . We know

we can play with anybody,” Rueck said after the Beavers lost 70-58

to the Irish on Sunday.

Jamie Weisner led Oregon State (8-4) with 18 points, and Ruth

Hamblin added 12 points, eight rebounds and tied a school record

with nine blocks.

”They definitely have elite athletes on the perimeter, so I was

just there as our second line of defense,” she said, adding that

the game was the best of her life.

Weisner was also pleased with her team’s play.

”We had a lot of turnovers down the stretch. We totally could

have won that game,” Weisner said.

Kayla McBride had 20 points for the Irish (11-0) and Natalie

Achonwa had 16 and eight rebounds.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw felt her unbeaten Notre Dame

squad hadn’t been tested this season before this game.

”It’s a huge win for us,” she said. ”It’s great to be behind

and have a close game at the end and see how we respond.”

Notre Dame trailed at halftime for the first time this season,

31-33.

McBride said the road game before a hostile crowd of more than

4,000 people felt like an NCAA tournament matchup.

”I know we have a target on our back and everybody is going to

bring us their best game,” she said. ”They played so hard, and I

respect that a lot.”

McBride added that she expected the Beavers to make ”a lot of

noise” in the Pac-12.

Oregon State didn’t trail in the first half afterAli Gibson

3-pointer with 13:06 left. The Beavers led 26-33 after Hamblin’s

put-back with 55 seconds left.

The Irish scored the next five points to pull within two at the

break, and then scored the first six points of the second half to

take the lead for good.

Notre Dame entered Sunday leading the nation in field goal

percentage (.522) and 3-point shooting (.449), but the Irish shot

36 percent in the half and 1 for 6 on 3s.

With 1:25 left, Ariel Braker got a steal off an inbounds play

for Oregon State, and McBride sank a jumper to make the score

66-58. Braker blocked Weisner on the Beavers’ next possession.

Weisner, a sophomore guard, entered the contest as the Beavers’

top scorer with 14.9 points per game. Oregon State has a young

team, with four underclassmen starters.

The Beavers were coming off a 74-41 win over Clemson on Dec.

21.

In the Beavers’ only other matchup against a ranked team so far

this season, they lost 61-56 to then-No. 13 Penn State on Nov.

29.

The Beavers’ last win against a ranked team was in 2003, and its

most recent win against a top 5 team was in 1992.

Sunday’s game was the start of a tough stretch for Oregon State,

which opens Pac-12 play next week with games against No. 23

California and No. 4 Stanford.

”How does it get better than this?” Rueck asked. ”We play in

one of the best conferences in the country, we’re young and all

that. I don’t care. I mean, I feel like we can win every

night.”

Sophomore Jewell Loyd, last year’s national freshman of the

year, came into the game leading the Irish by averaging 18.5 points

and 7.1 rebounds per game. She scored 10 on Sunday.

The Irish reached the Final Four the last three years, and

played for the championship in 2011 and 2012. This is Notre Dame’s

best start since 2009-10, when the Irish began 15-0.

Notre Dame’s next game is Jan. 2 against South Dakota State.